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Five Ways Mobile Can Differentiate the Store Experience


It’s no secret that the rise of mobile devices is empowering consumers and altering the way they shop. But mobile isn’t just changing the game for consumers. It’s also empowering chain stores to take advantage of those behavior changes to strengthen customer relationships and distinguish the in-store experience.

Here are five simple ways that chain stores can take advantage of mobile devices like tablets to enhance and differentiate the in-store experience and drive sales:

1. Turn sales associates (particularly new hires and part-timers) into on-demand store experts

The store associate plays an important role in ensuring a positive in-store consumer brand experience. With increased consumer access to information about the product landscape, the challenge for retailers is ensuring that the knowledge of store associates keeps pace. This can be particularly challenging, as high employee turnover rates force retailers to regularly train new hires and part-time associates.

Mobile devices such as tablets on the retail floor present a unique mechanism for continuous training and knowledge reinforcement, shortening the on-boarding process and improving customer interactions by enabling any associate – regardless of tenure – to provide the consultative advice consumers are looking for when browsing in-store.

2. Use technology to enable enhanced in-store consumer self-service while also pushing relevant content and incentives in real-time

By leveraging an indoor positioning system, such as Apple’s iBeacon or Near Field Communication capabilities on mobile devices, consumers can use their own mobile devices as a self-service mechanism to easily navigate any store, locate the exact products they are shopping for, and access content related to product use and/or installation.

Consumer bring-your-own-device (BYOD) in a brick-and-mortar setting also enables retailers to push relevant content, such as specific offers, manufacturer coupons or specials, directly to a consumer’s mobile device in real time — increasing the average shopping order value by not only ensuring that consumers can find the products they came for, but also incentivizing them to purchase suggested companion items with special deals.

3. Recreate the YouTube tutorial trend in store by providing on-demand access to product demos, install guides and how-to advice

Installing a car seat. Cleaning lawnmower blades. Hooking up a new wireless router. If you need a “how-to” tutorial, chances are you’re headed to YouTube. Retailers have a huge opportunity to offer that same information to consumers at their moment of need – while they are in the store and ready to buy. Retailers can easily provide on-demand access to product demonstrations, installation guides and how-to advice via an interactive kiosk tablet.

Furthermore, access to in-store and corporate product experts can be enabled via video chat, providing instant answers. Answering customer questions in real time enables better conversion-to-sale and increases average cart size at check out.

4. Eliminate the lost opportunity of out-of-stock on the shelf

Shoppers hate facing an empty shelf when they’re ready to buy. To avoid that lost sale (and accompanying feelings of disappointment), retailers can enable consumers to check the store’s warehouse inventory for the particular product, instantly receiving rain-check certificates for items that are indeed out-of-stock. This ensures that a retailer maximizes the size of the shopping cart at checkout (and doesn’t give a share of the consumer’s wallet to their competition).

5. Enable collaboration on and best practice sharing of store set-ups, floor layouts and shelf displays

With tablets in hand, store managers can take precise floor and shelf plan views with them as they set up displays. If they have questions or need to collaborate with experts to optimize for local attributes or demographics, they can video chat or annotate on floor plan diagrams right from within the mobile application where the content resides. They can also capture video to share best practices with other store managers to improve performance across all stores.

By opening up opportunities
for retailers to directly interact with customers and solve problems via the delivery of content and knowledge directly to mobile devices, chain stores have an opportunity to strengthen customer relationships and differentiate the in-store brand experience. This, in turn, can lead to improved sales — satisfied customers tend to spend more.

Brian Cleary is chief strategy officer of bigtincan.

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